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tlr online
02-03-05, 09:26
Just read an interesting interview with former Core Design boss and CiRCLE Studio director Jeremy Heath-Smith on Game Informer. The full interview can be read HERE (http://www.gameinformer.com/News/Story/200502/N05.0218.1910.33308.htm) but below is some quotes from Mr Heath-Smith, specifically addressing the Tomb Raider franchise, middleware and lessons learnt.

GI: We talked to you a little earlier about Renderware, which youíre using for Without Warning. Do you think middleware is the wave of the future?

JHS: Emotionally it was a huge decision to make that change. Weíve always done our own technology. The last Tomb Raider game on the PS2, we spent three years trying to create an engine and three months trying to create a game. And even on the end of that we were still trying to get the engine right. We got close but not close enough and when you have a company that does nothing but write middleware, itís pretty hard to argue with that. Look at EA, they couldnít figure it out so they went out and bought it. That has to say something. As a developer weíd love to have our own technology, of course we would because thatís what engineers want to do. But once you get your hands on Renderware and you take the lid off of it and start adding your own personal things, you can make that thing fly. And weíre already working with the next-generation of Renderware and itís awesome. So, Iím completely converted and will stand up on stage and sing their praises. But if you would have asked me that same question two years ago I would have said that you were mad.

GI: Backtracking a bit, how difficult was it to leave Core Design?

JHS: Of course, I started Core Design in 1988; she was my baby. I sold it, which I guess changes the dynamic of that a little bit and made a me lot of money out of it as a result, but I spent the best part of my life there. My brother joined us a little after I started Core Design and the team we took with us has been with us for about 8 to 10 years. So to walk out of that building was kind of weird but I have to say that once we moved into the new building it was like a sort of cloud lifted from over us. Everything was new again. It was just all the boys sitting around trying to come up with a game. Thatís how itís really changed; itís one of these things where the entire company is behind everything that goes on. That had been missing for a long time. It was a massive heart wrench, but looking back at it now, I donít regret it for a second.

GI: Had it almost gotten to the point where dealing with the pressures of Tomb Raider had made it not fun at all?

JHS: No, it was dreadful; the game, putting it together was dreadful. We all lived through a nightmare. The last 12 months of that game, we all worked 7 days a week for 15 hours a day minimum and it was hell. And one of the conditions that I made when we started Circle Studio was I told everyone that they would not have to go through that ever again, because I wonít. Physically I canít take it and my marriage, actually my second marriage, canít take it. I didnít say that my workers wonít have to go through the odd late night, but I did say that they wouldnít have to go to the extremes that they did at Core Design.

GI: How do you go about that philosophy? This has sort of been an issue as of late in the industry, most notably with EA and their very high profile labor disputes. Is that a manageable thing and is the industry capable of that kind of management?

JHS: Absolutely. At Core Design we ran from game to game to game. We never had five minutes to sit back and think of why any part of a particular game didnít work. We just took one mess into another mess and so on. At Circle Studio we sat down for three months and didnít even write any code. Instead we wrote a book, a complete Bible on how this company was going to work, how itís managed, how itís structured, how we handle internal reporting and now weíve a wonderful system. We schedule daily now. So when the guys come in they schedule what theyíre going to do and when they leave, they sign out and write down what theyíve done. If you had asked me two years ago if this would work, I would have called you mad and said that the guys wouldnít do that. If you try to schedule anything over a month youíre insane.

GI: We think itís pretty safe to say that the Tomb Raider franchise declined over the years. What lessons did you learn from that in moving to a new company? Would you ever keep a series running that long again?

JHS: Absolutely. But Iíd listen to the passion of the gamers over the commerciality of what it should be. The difficulty of Tomb Raider was that when it was successful, you try to appease everyone. You try to appease the press because you donít like to read negative reviews. You try to appease the marketing, sales, and commercial guys, too. And they all say that it needs to change, that it needs to be more edgy and you need Lara Croft to go into the city and go here and go there. So you do all of that because you think itís the right thing to do and then you actually stand back and look at it and think what the heck happened. This isnít Tomb Raider. That game was back with the wolves and the bears and the ancient temples. You talk to a Tomb Raider fan and ask them where we went the wrong direction and theyíll say that it was when we started to change the core gameplay dynamic. To be fair, we sold out to commerciality and we should have stuck to what we knew we were good at doing, which was making games. So the lesson to be learned is do not break the formula. Look at Final Fantasy, they havenít changed the formula for that recently. Theyíve advanced it but itís basically the same game as the first one.

GI: Was there too much pressure to put out Tomb Raider games?

JHS: It was colossal. But you know what; I made a ton of money from it. Ideally we should have probably only done three on the PSone and we would have been in good shape for the next one.

tlr online
02-03-05, 11:50
Another interview with Adrian. More on Tomb Raider and Core Design.

http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=58101

Melonie Tomb Raider
02-03-05, 12:05
Thank you Justin. http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/hug.gif

ELEN
02-03-05, 14:29
And they all say that it needs to change, that it needs to be more edgy and you need Lara Croft to go into the city and go here and go there. Who is "all"? Because I know I'm not one of them. If that was a CORE's decision, I'm sure they can see what has happened.

This isnít Tomb Raider. My thoughts exactly!

You talk to a Tomb Raider fan and ask them where we went the wrong direction and theyíll say that it was when we started to change the core gameplay dynamic. Unfortunately, it is too late. I hope CD will bring back the old classic TR game.

Apofiss
02-03-05, 19:47
Thank you tlr online for info!

Instead we wrote a book, a complete Bible on how this company was going to work, how itís managed, how itís structured, how we handle internal reporting and now weíve a wonderful system.Good beginning. http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

So the lesson to be learned is do not break the formula. Look at Final Fantasy, they havenít changed the formula for that recently. Theyíve advanced it but itís basically the same game as the first one.Yes, the main thing is not to change the formula and they are absolutely right about Final Fantasy! (well done 'square') http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/thumb.gif

...and then you actually stand back and look at it and think what the heck happened. This isnít Tomb Raider. That game was back with the wolves and the bears and the ancient temples.Sometimes this 'stupid' money makes things go wrong and that is sad. :(

Tomb Raider is special game (like Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, Silent Hill and ...) and publishers/developers should be more serious about how to create its future.

SpArKy
02-03-05, 20:01
Some good info and qoutes there, it seems they have 'seen the light' and its the gamers that know what they want, not the consumers.

Angela Russell
02-03-05, 21:47
I actually like the new games and hate the old ones. The 2nd was OK, the 3rd was too hard, the 4th was too long and the 1st is just plain boring. Mabey it's because I am a latecommer to the series???

Chall!

UNDERTAKER
02-03-05, 22:37
That was an interesting read. I suppose it all makes sense now and you can sympathise with them over AOD.

Melonie Tomb Raider
03-03-05, 11:46
I loved AOD! It was my favorite TR game, and I'm not a newcommer to the series. I also enjoyed TR1 a lot, and TR2 was a blast! TR3 started off really fun for me, but got major boring after a while. TR4 is too monotonus (sp?). It was pretty fun, but after doing the same thing over and over and over you get bored. I still haven't finished the game... Oh, and I've never played Chronicles... I have it, but my PS2 can't read PS1 disc...

RavenLettan
03-03-05, 16:19
yay.. sympathy! can some of us Ex-employees get a hug too? :D

Call me crazy but actually I sent them an application today to work for Core Design again.
As the company is down to literally a handful of staff (15 at last count i think), and Tomb Raider no longer thier responsibility does actually make it a choice job with a prodominant company. http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

Tomb Raider 4 was too boring, and oddly enough was voted Tomb Raider fans favourite of all time.
When 'all' is reffered to, you can often think of those people who participate in surveys and alike for Eidos or the website.

Oh, and certain artists who relate to the current generation of games. ;)
Personally I thought the games move was good, but the execution wasn't as good as it could've been. This led to obvious problems.

I'm so glad they're using Middleware (Renderware) now, it does take *alot* of pressure off develpoment of games to be more creative. The screenshots of the new game do look very impressive, something interesting.

Somehow I had a feeling 24 was going to be used as a base for one of thier games. Some good interviews, and good to hear they both enjoy thier new company.

If you notice from the interviews you can really see how different they are. ^_^

Melonie you have to get Chronicles working! :( alot of people claimed it was a bad game, but if you play it to the end I think it really recaptured the whole original Tomb Raider better than any of the other sequals. Perhaps that's just being bias toward it, however it starts off slow, the *really* improves quickly.

Alot of people agreed that the Ireland Saga was one of the best level sets made. http://www.tombraiderforums.com/images/smilies/smile.gif I thought the design and fact you had no weapons really did make it come alive. Although my favourite is the Von Croy Saga :D I prefer the whole hi-tech stuff though.

tlr online
04-03-05, 00:59
Ashley. Which year did you work for Core?